Florida is the most lethal state for bicyclists in the country. And Lee County has been ranked No. 9 by the Florida Department of Transportation on a list of deadliest counties to ride in the nation’s deadliest state.
Our Cape Coral bicycle accident attorneys recognize this undesirable title has left scores of people injured, dead and mourning. Countless more have been victimized by close encounters or the loss of friends or biking acquaintances, and are now too fearful to venture out onto our roads.
Among the most recent incidents, as reported by The News-Press, involved a 56-year-old cyclist struck by an 84-year-old driver on Fort Myers Beach. The cyclist, recently upgraded from critical condition to fair condition at a local hospital, recalled the one thought swirling in his head as he saw the vehicle barrel toward him: “I’m going to die.” Witnesses the driver had knocked over several other cyclists just moments earlier without bothering to stop, slow down or even move over to the open lane next to him.
A total of four cyclists were struck. The driver was cited for operating a vehicle with an expired tag and careless driving. For nearly killing for people, he will pay a total of $272 in fines. He also kept his driver’s license.
So far this year, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization has reported 112 bicycle-related crash injuries in the county. This puts us on track to likely succeed the 175 tallied in 2013, which was the highest reported in more than a dozen years.
Other recent crashes include one in Bonita Springs, where an elderly driver suffered a traumatic brain injury after being struck by a hit-and-run driver. In another case, a rider was seriously injured in Cape Coral when he was struck by a pickup. Around the same time, a bicyclist in Alva was struck by a vehicle at an intersection.
Advocates say fast emergency response and advances in medicine mean that not as many of these injuries will be fatal. Still, it’s possible these riders have sustained injuries that will be life-altering – and potentially permanent.
A few have filed lawsuits in an effort to recoup the cost of medical bills, as well as other damages. They may be able to collect more if the courts find they lost wages as a result of being unable to report to work due to their injuries, or if it’s determined the driver acted with reckless disregard.
A big part of the problem is the county lacks bicycle lanes in many areas, and motorists often feel resentful about having to share the road. One of the cyclists struck in the Fort Myers Beach incident reported that within a week of returning to the road, he was heckled by a driver who yelled an obscenity at him and shouted at him to get off the road.
In an effort to help raise awareness, The News-Press has written a series of recent articles and opinion editorials on the issue, as well as created a Facebook page offering updates on pertinent local issues. You can visit at facebook.com/sharetheroadflorida.
SW Florida earning a bad cycling reputation, July 21, 2014, By Janine Zeitlin, The News-Press
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Spaid v. Integon Indemnity Corp. – Ambiguous Auto Insurance Policies, July 11, 2014, Cape Coral Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog